A report released last week by four advocacy organizations called for increased state funding for transit, a move that could help eliminate the so-called “transit-time penalty.”
That penalty is the additional time required to travel between two places by public transportation compared with travel by car.
The report, issued by Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, TakeAction Minnesota, ISAIAH and the Center for Popular Democracy, claims that transit riders of color lose about four more workweeks a year in travel time to their jobs than white drivers.
The transit gap “exacerbates racial and economic disparities,” since people of color rely on public transportation far more than whites, according to national census data. And only 15 percent of jobs in the Twin Cities are well served by transit.
The time penalty “disproportionately impacts communities of color” due to infrequent service, indirect routes, delays, and overcrowded vehicles, the report says. Asian-Americans in the Twin Cities spend almost 29 more hours a year commuting than whites, while African-Americans spend 23.2 additional hours and Latino workers, 15.2 hours.
So, if you live in Savage and work at the Mall of America in Bloomington, the commute by transit takes 64 minutes, compared with 30 minutes by car. Or, if you live in north Minneapolis and work at Regions Hospital in St. Paul, the trip takes 51 minutes longer on transit.
“We need to not nickel and dime a public transportation plan, which could lead to increasing fares and cuts in service,” said Anthony Newby, NOC’s executive director. “We really need to think about how we get people to work, school and the grocery store in an efficient way. That takes money.”
The report says Metro Transit’s Service Improvement Plan, which calls for new and improved bus service, as well as arterial bus-rapid transit service would go a long way toward eliminating the gap.
The plan does not address new light-rail lines, just bus connections to them.